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Swedish Pirate Party Presses Charges Against Banks For WikiLeaks Blockade 234

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the obey-the-law dept.
davecb writes "Rick Falkvinge reports today that the Swedish Pirate Party has laid charges against at least Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal before the Finansinspektionen for refusing to pass on money owed to WikiLeaks. The overseer of bank licenses notes (in translation) that 'The law states, that if there aren't legal grounds to deny a payment service, then it must be processed.'"
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Swedish Pirate Party Presses Charges Against Banks For WikiLeaks Blockade

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  • Excellent. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:13PM (#42320677)

    I look forward to seeing Paypal get a taste of having to follow rules.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:22PM (#42320743)

      Corporations are people too, Sweden has just unilaterally declared war on an American citizen, our drones will be there and filled with democracy and liberty for the Swedish people soon.

    • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmail . c om> on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:39PM (#42320907)

      I look forward to seeing Paypal get a taste of having to follow rules.

      They do need to be reigned in.

      But perhaps Visa and Mastercard need to be put in their place even more. I can usually avoid PayPal in my everyday life, but Visa and Mastercard together pretty much control the world of online purchases. They cannot be allowed pick and choose who gets the payment and who doesn't.

      Aren't there any equivalent US laws? Or is no one in US interested in prosecuting?

      • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Informative)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:52PM (#42321447)

        Aren't there any equivalent US laws? Or is no one in US interested in prosecuting?

        Who do you think pushed to get Wikileaks payments blocked? The US Government.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11945875 [bbc.co.uk]

        • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by shentino (1139071) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @12:37AM (#42321987)

          Who wants to bet that Visa and Mastercard will follow the telecoms into getting retroactive immunity?

          • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Informative)

            by cdrudge (68377) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:27AM (#42325111) Homepage

            Who wants to bet that Visa and Mastercard will follow the telecoms into getting retroactive immunity?

            I may be wrong, but I don't think Congress can grant retroactive immunity for a corporation's operation in another country. They may grant immunity for US operations, but if they chose to operate in a foreign country they are subject to that foreign country's laws.

            Potentially this could put Paypal, Visa, and MasterCard between a rock and a hard place.

        • by bradley13 (1118935) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @04:27AM (#42323101) Homepage

          The US government was (and is) certainly a major force here. The trail is even easier to follow, if you look at the hosting. After the Wikileaks servers were initially overwhelmed by DDOS attacks, they moved to Amazon EC2. On 29 November 2010, Ms. Clinton stated that the US would "aggressively" go after Wikileaks. Two days later, on 1 December 2010, Amazon threw Wikileaks off of EC2.

          According to the fine print in the Amazon Terms-and-Conditions, they can do this for any reason or no reason. Which is not unusual, but it *is* unusual to see a company actually make use of such terms. It is surely coincidental that, at that point in time, Amazon was completing for some pretty big cloud-service contracts with the federal government.

          • by Talderas (1212466) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:15AM (#42324145)

            It is quite possible that Amazon tossed wikileaks off their server in response to Ms. Clinton's announcement so they wouldn't have to deal with the hassle of the US government coming in and seizing their equipment.

            You know.... proactively protecting their other paying customers from losing their hosted services and/or data by getting rid of a customer that creates a risk.

        • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Informative)

          by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:57AM (#42324309) Homepage

          Place blame on exactly who's shoulders it belongs:
          - Barack Obama (D) made it national policy to aggressively prosecute whistleblowers of all stripes (including Bradley Manning), and proudly supported the effort to cut off funding of Wikileaks despite the demonstrable fact that the organization has not been convicted or blamed for any crimes in any court of law.
          - Joe Lieberman (I) did the actual organizing of all the payment processors to cut off payments.
          - Lest you think this was all the Democrats' idea, Mitch McConnell, Dick Cheney, and quite a few other prominent Republicans fully supported these moves. Probably because it made their guys look bad too.

          Make no mistake about it: There was absolutely nothing legal about what the US government did to Wikileaks, but there was little to no opposition within the government. Julian Assange had a point during his extradition trial when he argued that the United States could not be trusted to follow its own laws. The trouble, of course, was that the UK and Sweden were happy to bend over when the US asked them to, and it was Ecuador with the cajones to stand up to them.

      • This is the big difference between the US and the EU. The US got stronger protection of freedom of speech... from the government. The EU got stronger protection of freedom... from business. In the US, your hate group is safe from government interference and it is totally by accident that all the big corps seem to follow party lines. But hey, no censorship from the state, you just won't be able to bank, rent, work or buy. But total freedom otherwise.

        In the EU, hate groups are not as safe from state influe

    • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:41PM (#42320927)

      In case anyone else was wondering what Finansinspektionen was, the following is taken from wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      Finansinspektionen (FI; Financial Supervisory Authority in English) is the Swedish government agency responsible for financial regulation in Sweden. It is responsible for the oversight, regulation and authorisation of financial markets and their participants. The agency falls under the Swedish Ministry of Finance and regulates all organisations that provide financial services in Sweden.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I look forward to seeing Paypal get a taste of having to follow rules.

      Sorry, but as a swede I can safely say that "Finansinspektionen" has no real teeth. They will not do anything about this. Too bad though.

      Hope I am proven wrong.

      • It's a political move. FI may not have any teeth, but by forcing them to address the matter it is bound to get at least some publicity. If they actually end up doings omething about it then that's just a bonus.

    • by jythie (914043)
      Paypal probably will not get in trouble since technically they do not behave like a bank and move around other people's money, but instead take the money and promise to give it to someone else... but in that intermediate state they own it, which is why they keep getting away with confiscating it.
      • by SeaFox (739806)

        Isn't that the same as Visa and Mastercard?
        I thought they were being targeted as a "payment processor", not as a bank.

      • Paypal probably will not get in trouble since technically they do not behave like a bank and move around other people's money, but instead take the money and promise to give it to someone else... but in that intermediate state they own it, which is why they keep getting away with confiscating it.

        Are you sure about that? I would imagine that it actually differs from one country to another as financial and taxation law varies and book-keeping will generally be done in a way to minimize overhead. At least I have a recollection that Paypal will not accept bookkeeping in a way that it would consider Paypal to be offering the actual service that is being payed for, but from that point onwards it get's fairly grey. Also, it's not just about actual Paypal payments, they also own Zong which does quite a lot

        • Paypal IS a bank in Europe, inc in Luxembourg. Oddly the EU wasnt fooled by "we're not a bank" Paypal, unlike the US

    • "I look forward to seeing Paypal get a taste of having to follow rules."

      Yeah... like having to use ACTUAL monetary exchange rates when dealing internationally, rather than some inflated figure they made up.

  • here here! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hguorbray (967940) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:30PM (#42320819)
    There was no legal basis for these payment processors to refuse to transfer payments to wikileaks -who had not and have not (as far as I know) been identified as a terrorist or organized crime group....

    the payment processors were just sucking up to the corporatist powers and should be punished for refusing to allow legal commerce and monetary transactions -of course they were probably leaned on at the time by the state department or someone and threatened with sanctions or aiding and abetting or giving comfort or some BS

    the ultimate end to this would be refusing to send donations to the EFF, ALCU, greenpeace, PETA (OK I know the last two are borderline hippie/batshit crazy) and other radical and democratic groups....so as not to rock the plutocratic ship of state.

    -I'm just sayin'
    • by BlueStrat (756137)

      There was no legal basis for these payment processors to refuse to transfer payments to wikileaks -who had not and have not (as far as I know) been identified as a terrorist or organized crime group...

      the payment processors were just sucking up to the corporatist powers and should be punished for refusing to allow legal commerce and monetary transactions -of course they were probably leaned on at the time by the state department or someone and threatened with sanctions or aiding and abetting or giving comfort or some BS

      They were placed on double-secret probation.

      TO-GA!

      TO-GA!

      Seriously though, it may well have been the case that they received a nice friendly National Security Letter that ordered them to halt payment processing.

      the ultimate end to this would be refusing to send donations to the EFF, ALCU, greenpeace, PETA (OK I know the last two are borderline hippie/batshit crazy) and other radical and democratic groups....so as not to rock the plutocratic ship of state.

      If any of those groups dared to publish embarrassing and damaging information about secret US actions, etc, of the scale and scope that WL did, then I'd expect the talking-heads in the State-run US MSM and the politicians to engage in a full-on media-blitz of propaganda to pave the way to do just that

      • "Seriously though, it may well have been the case that they received a nice friendly National Security Letter that ordered them to halt payment processing."

        National Security Letters have nothing to do with business transactions, and have no power to alter them.

        • by BlueStrat (756137)

          "Seriously though, it may well have been the case that they received a nice friendly National Security Letter that ordered them to halt payment processing."

          National Security Letters have nothing to do with business transactions, and have no power to alter them.

          Mea culpa.

          You are absolutely correct. Thanks! :)

          Now that I re-think it, it's more than likely it was because they were told that the IRS and every other government agency and department they could toss in would be up their asses until they died if they didn't cooperate.

          Strat

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Yet the cash stopped Jane. WikiLeaks or its staff faced no public findings, courts at the time yet a group of "US" multinational financial services corporations all stopped?
          Call it an extra judical request? A chat over drinks at the club? Lunch?
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11945875 [bbc.co.uk]
          Just a 'letter"?
      • The situation with the Pentagon Papers is not identical. The Pentagon Papers were a multi-volume book about the Vietnam War. They had all the context needed to make sense. They also showed us lots of things we didn't know. This means that a responsibly-handled publication was in the public interest. What about either War did this tell us that we didn't know? How can a dump of totally un-redacted cables be considered responsible?

        And, perhaps most importantly, what are the odds that Roberts Court does not fin

        • Re:here here! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BlueStrat (756137) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:43AM (#42322875)

          The situation with the Pentagon Papers is not identical. The Pentagon Papers were a multi-volume book about the Vietnam War. They had all the context needed to make sense. They also showed us lots of things we didn't know. This means that a responsibly-handled publication was in the public interest. What about either War did this tell us that we didn't know? How can a dump of totally un-redacted cables be considered responsible?.

          I was a teenager at the time and remember. The PP were a series of classified reports requested by SoD Robert McNamara that were published by the NYT in a series of news articles over a period of time.

          Both the PP and the WL cables were classified material. What form the classified material is in (reports, book, etc) was and is immaterial, as are any subjective views of how informative or "responsible" they may or may not be. If one is legal, so must the other be. The law does not change depending on whether the government favors or disfavors a particular instance. At least, it should not if the government respects and obeys the rule of law. If the government is free to do whatever it wants to whomever it wants whenever it wants for whatever reasons it may choose, that's a tyranny.

          The government tried at that time to prevent the NYT from publishing the PP and were planning to prosecute Sheehan and possibly editors at the NYT. Much as now, the propaganda and inflammatory accusations against the NYT and Sheehan by the government and those supporting the government's position abounded. The courts did not allow the government to prevent publication nor prosecute Sheehan or the others.

          I'm certain that the US government has not moved against WL in the legal venue in a court of law precisely because they know the courts would have to completely reverse themselves on a major already-decided fundamental legal question, and their chances of that happening are remote at best.

          Strat

          • If the Pentagon papers case had been as clear-cut as you're saying the Times would have won at the District Court level, but they lost. The Court was weighing the interests of the public to know this information with the interests of the government to keep it secret.

            Stewart and White said "the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in [national defense and international affairs] may lie in an enlightened citizenry - in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect th

            • by BlueStrat (756137)

              Since these leaks did not make the public more informed, or critical

              That's YOUR opinion. It made ME more informed and critical, as it did many, many others.

              Law cannot be based on subjective standards, or it is no law at all. And yes, many current laws around things like obscenity/pornography are in that category and should rightly be abolished or at least re-written to clear and unambiguous and consistent standards.

              Strat

              • Since these leaks did not make the public more informed, or critical

                That's YOUR opinion. It made ME more informed and critical, as it did many, many others.

                Then you were incredibly poorly informed before, because everything Wikileaks claims to have revealed was very well-known before Wikileaks revealed it.

                Drone strikes are old news. Pakistani double-dealing is older. Afghanistan was a tough slog when invaded Iraq in '03.

                Law cannot be based on subjective standards, or it is no law at all. And yes, many current laws around things like obscenity/pornography are in that category and should rightly be abolished or at least re-written to clear and unambiguous and consistent standards.

                Strat

                Then no-one will ever fully have the rule of law, because human life does not fit into neat, objective categories. If it did we wouldn't need a Supreme Court.

                • by BlueStrat (756137)

                  Then you were incredibly poorly informed before, because everything Wikileaks claims to have revealed was very well-known before Wikileaks revealed it.

                  The exact same claim could be made for the Pentagon Papers as well.

                  Law cannot be based on subjective standards, or it is no law at all. And yes, many current laws around things like obscenity/pornography are in that category and should rightly be abolished or at least re-written to clear and unambiguous and consistent standards.

                  Then no-one will ever fully have the rule of law, because human life does not fit into neat, objective categories. If it did we wouldn't need a Supreme Court.

                  Precisely the point.

                  The US government did not and is not pursuing this through the judicial system exactly because it is pursuing an extra-legal policy regarding WL/Assange that they

  • Journalists (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:58PM (#42321069)

    Good journalists report what governments don't like reported. Wikileaks did nothing more than journalism. It was a good thing, it gave strength to the people wanting democracy in the African Spring.

    The attacks on Wikileaks and on Assange (no I don't accept the rape charges are anything other than malicious) amount to attacks on journalism.

  • Pirate Party (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @11:00PM (#42321507)

    I notice that again it takes the Pirate Party to stand up against these bullies. And still there are people that cannot see further than the name, or assert that it's just people "wanting to download stuff for free".

    Hats off to the Swedish Pirate Party!

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